The cool air is coming in, and the trees are looking much more bare on our return to campus, which can only mean one thing: the dreaded finals season is upon us. More time indoors cramped up studying and getting assignments done for the next few weeks. It’s a little hard to adjust to that reality, coming back from break all rested and content, but it’s time to really push forward this month. As it’s my first official semester on campus during finals, I am reevaluating my own strategies from semester’s past, and hoping that some of these tips and general suggestions can be of use to you as we embark on this season.
1. Plan Now
It may seem self-explanatory, but don’t waste time in blocking out time you’re going to study, work on that assignment, whatever it is: do it now. Since we still have two weeks of classes, take the time now to plan what you’re going to do, and when you’re going to do it. If I commit time for myself, I am more likely to do it. It is still tempting to make excuses, like how is scrolling through TikTok for another five minutes going to hurt? It’ll turn into an hour before you even realize the prior five minutes went past.
Distractions are everywhere, but if you think ahead and commit yourself to a block of two to three hours where you are in the library, or wherever you like to study, you are guaranteed to get more done. It requires some discipline and desire to get the thing done too, so it ultimately depends on you to turn off your phone, tell your friend you’ll talk to them later, and really get into the grind.
2. Prioritize and Break Down
I have made the mistake one too many times of doing the assignment that takes the most amount of time last minute. It happens. However, this is avoidable if you, in your planning, look at due dates and estimate the amount of time it will take. For papers, this is particularly important. This includes researching, sourcing, and thoroughly extracting sources or data you might need. Be honest with yourself and make sure you consider the time you will need over the next few weeks to get it done.
Depending on when a deadline is, you might not have all the time in the world to get it done. I am not promoting procrastination, but hey, sometimes my best work comes from it. Genuinely too, some professors have assignments due very early in the finals period, so it’s important to get them done.
Do a little bit every day. A little bit as in an hour or two maximum, if you can a lot for it. I guarantee you will thank yourself for it if you give that extra leeway of time. Converse with your classmates, if possible, and see what their thoughts are on the assignment, how they’re studying or working on it, and use that to aid your own plan of action.
If you’re really seasoned in finals period, you probably feel set in your methods and strategies of attacking it head-on. Even so, or if you’re completely new to this process, I acknowledge the fact that some strategies are applicable for some professors, classes, or departments, and others are not.
It is not bad of you as a student to find the most effective means to prepare or get something done based on the circumstances of whatever class it is. Of course, they must be ethical, but don’t be afraid to utilize advice from former students, the professor themself, or switch up a strategy to try something new in an effort to do well for that class’ final requirements.
4. Take Time for You
Burnout is the last thing you need during finals season. It leaves you unproductive, unmotivated, and downright low, which are none of the beneficial means you need to get things done. Don’t work yourself so hard that you don’t take time for essential things in your routine. Above one of the suggestions was prioritizing. This is applicable here too. Prioritize the important, personal things to you still.
You still need meals, exercise, socialization, and sleep.
I know it seems like a lot to ask of yourself when you have a pile of assignments looming over you, but trust me, those things will not get done if you don’t grant yourself the kindness your body and mind needs to get them done. It might be even more important, now than ever, to have blocked out times in your schedule to do these things in abundance. Plan to get lunch with friends in between studying. Take a break from a late night with that ten-page paper to go and move your body at the gym. Give yourself that time you enjoy already to watch an episode of that show you just got into.
Your mind and body are going to be in a much better place, with you still taking care of them. However, I know that it’s easier said than done, so please know it’s okay if it gets to be too much. Do what you have to do. Remember: your health comes first always.
Reach out to the Counseling Center between 8:45 am – 5 pm at 610-330-5005 or after hours to be connected to their crisis hotline. Other links are listed below regarding mental and physical well-being.
5. It’s Going to be Okay
In case no one has told you yet, you are going to be alright. Finals season is stressful, and the air has that certain quality in it, because everyone is in the same boat. Take deep breaths and take it easy.
Try not to think about the results, or what comes next when that exam lands in your professor’s hands. It is critical for you to just focus on the present, and do the best you can do as you and in that moment.
It’s the final stretch; we’re almost there!